Five 6th form students at Our Lady’s Abingdon were in the winning group at the National Finals of the UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC) 2023. The strongest team players will be selected to take part in the World Finals at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
At 6.00am on Saturday, 11 March, a group of 5 OLA 6th form students boarded a train to London to compete in the National Finals of the UK Space Design Competition. They had earned their place there after winning the Oxford regional finals in November. The national finals were to be bigger, more challenging and take place over 2 days.
William, Nick, Alfie, Jazib and Jonty, OLA 6th students, were allocated to be part of the ‘Olympus Mons Trading Company’ alongside students from a number of other schools from across the UK.
Their mission was to design ‘Dias’, a sun-orbiting settlement that would lead the way in scientific research and space recreation and work towards new methods of harnessing the sun’s energy. They would have just under 12 hours (if they worked through the night) to research, engineer and put together a presentation for the judges.
The company worked incredibly well together designing a station with 7 rings; 4 for residential living, 1 for science and 1 for industry. Their craft included a solar shield and detailed plans for the indoor layout.
Being so close to the sun, the group also had to contend with the effects of radiation and how they would protect and care for the inhabitants. They had to consider how to make their settlement self-sufficient, including power generation and sourcing materials.
But it was not all about the science. The team also had to consider the leisure side of the settlement and potential cost/revenue source for the investors to whom they were pitching. They had to defend the viability of the project and its aims during 15 mins of gruelling questioning following their presentation.
After a long deliberation, the OLA team, alongside those in their company, came out on top to become the UK Winners of the UK Space Design Competition 2023. They move now into a voting process as a company to nominate their strongest team players to compete for the UK in the World Finals in the Summer. These will take place in the Kennedy Space Centre (Florida) and will once again be bigger and more challenging, and they work with students from across the world.
Commenting on this fantast achievement, the Head of OLA, Daniel Gibbons, said: “We are so proud of our students; meeting a scientific research challenge head-on, holding their own during a gruelling questioning following their presentation and coming out as winners, their endeavours have certainly paid off today in a remarkable way.
“Congratulations to all! OLA has an established reputation for the ‘Value Added’ it achieves for its students, and this achievement once again proves that we support each and every student based on the firm belief that happy learners make successful achievers.”
OLA (Our Lady’s Abingdon) is a Catholic Independent Co-educational Day School for students aged 7 to 18 years. With under 400 pupils, OLA offers everyone the possibility of representing the school in a wide range of confidence-developing activities, including science, sport, drama, music, academic competitions and other chances to thrive, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The UKSDC finals took place at the iconic Imperial College London. 248 15- to 18-year-olds from more than 25 schools around the UK qualified last Autumn at one of the Regional heats for this exciting and challenging competition. Twelve students will be selected to represent the UK at the International Finals which are held annually at NASA, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.